Thursday, September 4, 2014

A 'B' in Angst

Recently I've come to now and then play 'Walk Like an Egyptian' by the Bangles. It was in that list of songs I put together in June - I'd listen to it, basically. When I realized the song was in B, though, my interest rose and I started playing it now and then.

I first saw it on TV somewhere. It was probably that old Video on Trial show on MuchMusic. It used to be kind of funny to watch as comedians picked apart a song's music video (and usually the song itself). They had an 80s version that included this song.

There are only two songs by that band I'm familiar with, this song as well as 'Manic Monday,' which I originally thought was by 10,000 Maniacs due to the voice sounding almost exactly like Natalie Merchant's. That's just me of course - their voices aren't exactly the same, but I thought that was how Merchant sounded if she sung in a higher register. I hear 'Manic Monday' a lot more often than I ever hear 'Walk Like an Egyptian' both at Wal-Mart as well as on my radio. It doesn't sound anything in my opinion like the other song.

The lyrics weren't written by The Bangles apparently, but by someone else who also decided who sang the lead lyrics. This caused some resentment from the drummer who was pushed to the background vocals and further had her drums filled in by a drum machine. I wonder why they did it that way?

Lyric-wise, the song seems to simply just be about people walking like an Egyptian; the music video intersperses footage of the band playing with images of people actually walking that way on the streets or pictures of celebrities and notable people animated to move that way through visual effects.

The gem for me here is the slightly dark tone of the music itself. The majority of the song is in B major. On its own, played on the piano, the chord is a lime green/aqua blue colour. In this song, this context, and on the guitar, it's a bright yellow. I tend to view it synesthetically in a westward direction, and the way its played - just lazily strummed over and over - gives me quite an atmosphere, personality, ideal and context.

It gives me a sullen teenage girl who is bored, restless, and has a sort of anger, perhaps even bitterness. Of course, being B, the girl is my type. Maybe she's into motorcycles. I can visualize her with a black leather jacket. She doesn't listen to anyone, makes her own rules, moves about on her own. This is all through how the guitar plays, and helped by the accompanying bass line. Not interested in beating around the bush. The end of the song is joined by this riff that plays along with the guitar, which makes me imagine that this girl and her friend(s), riding along, are joined by their boyfriends who make it interesting. They're more light-hearted and comedic than sullen or bored and pick the rest up. This idea is created by how silly or clownish the riff sounds.

The song is good to me when it causes my synesthesia to very directly create a personality or face and character that I find attractive and then put it in a light that accentuates this more. Blunt. No-nonsense. The 'B' in a sort of late teenage angst. The backing voices that make the 'whoa' parts can be alluded to me as a sort of imagination of great adventure, through the eyes of this bored girl.

To finish, the song is straightforward, and if I were to try to listen to all the fast-paced lyrics, probably interesting as well, and it gives me an appealing image, so it does its job for me.

I'm pretty sure the person who uploaded that wrote in mis-heard lyrics.

Music: A-
Lyrics: B

The lazy way that guitar's quite effective.

Red Cloud

Monday, September 1, 2014

70s VS 10s, The

In several books and other references, I've read that the 1970s is retrospectively thought of as the 'Me' decade. In double-checking, it was writer Tom Wolfe who coined it. Then I ended up looking at each Wikipedia article on the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s, and now here I am, two hours later, finally completing this sentence.

It's something I've been comparing with the present. People forty years ago were apparently more self-interested, more focused on what their wants and needs were, instead of what I read as the more communal dynamic of the 60s. To me I just get an image in my head of groups of counter-cultures and free-thinking university students. I'm grossly uninformed on the subject, but the general idea remains - people were more in tune with themselves than others back then, and I'm thinking about it because of today's social culture.

My generation may as well be very similar: We post about everything on Facebook; we have phones that are also cameras and digital video cameras. We spend probably half of our time on the Internet posting stuff to Tumblr or Instagram or Twitter. Can you believe how unendingly narcissistic this sounds? What do people take the most pictures of? What's the most photographed subject? The photographer's face. The whole 'selfie' phenomenon that everyone's into right now. People enjoy taking pictures of themselves regardless of the time or occasion and posting it online somewhere. We enjoy talking about interests in a forum like Facebook or Twitter, or painting our emotions or feelings or focuses on Tumblr or our own blogs. I'm no different - while I don't take five selfies per day or use Instagram, I'm on all the rest, as well as Flickr (though I hardly ever post anything at all on there anymore). Everyone has a YouTube channel; everyone has a Facebook profile.

I once had a Facebook friend who posted pictures of every meal he ate that was not at home. He wasn't a gourmet critic or anything, because it went way further than that, to the point he posted every single location he travelled to, provided additional comments, posted every single random thought that went through his head, and every video he shot of every video game he played. If you hung out with him anywhere at any time, your location would be checked-in, your name tagged, and the whole thing further commented on by him; this included pictures of you and a picture of the location, food if applicable. He had over a thousand friends because if you said hello to him he would add you. My newsfeed became his whole world for me to watch/read/comment/be amazed by, if that was his intention.

Of course, I'm not saying every person born between say, 1986 and 1995 are like that. My point is that technology has changed and advanced to our complete advantage when it comes to self-promoting ourselves or talking about ourselves. This is the Me Decade times ten, where everyone posts selfie pictures and tweets links to their favourite artists and reblogs gifs of their favourite TV show on Tumblr. It's all about Me. And let's not forget the celebrities that only enhance this and ultimately further the world of fandom and gossip by Instagramming their choice of dress or having infantile fights with each other over Twitter.

There's a good aspect to this and a bad one. Information sharing and communication is never an issue. It's just that simple saying where too much of a good thing isn't necessarily good. What are you doing if you spend all your time updating statuses on your smartphone? Every time I go on my break at Wal-Mart, the young adults in the breakroom almost say nothing to each other. They stare at their smartphones. They're texting or online. Not that the room is completely devoid of speech or socializing; the older people will easily talk to each other, and maybe, maybe, a couple of guys or girls my age will have a conversation (with a few interruptions with their phones once or twice). Does everyone live online or in person? Are you so obsessed with how you look and how many views/favourites your selfie will get that all you virtually care about is you?

We have to learn to find a middle ground. No doubt a lot of us have. But the whole social construct, in my experience anyway, seems to have shifted from talking to staring at phones and posting online. In general, anyway. When I re-added all those friends on Facebook, my newsfeed didn't change too much. I didn't get a huge jump in added posts from people. Obviously they're living their lives in the real world, which is good. I hardly post more than once a day, maybe. I used to post like crazy, but I've managed to stop relying on it so much. I think some people have the unhealthy idea that Facebook gives them friends or a social life when it's just a painting of selfies and irrelevant information you'd rather be a part of or the source of instead of just watching. I'm thankfully not as personal on here as much anymore than I used to be. My posts here tend to be very music-focused, or observation-based such as this one. It wasn't always like that (2010 was a horrible year for that) but I've managed to alter the dynamic a little.

All of this is here to stay - all the information-sharing and social networking that makes Web 2.0 Web 2.0 - and it's neat to have and all. We just need to stop being so obsessed with ourselves or how we're perceived, stop focusing inwards and being so relentlessly narcissistic, and live in the real world again where everyone talked and had conversations and learned about someone over dinner or lunch or in class or at work rather than through a Facebook profile. All of that without being tagged in a location check-in or photographed or otherwise exposed via social media.

Middle ground, moderation, that's the key. Again, it's a general observation of what I see in today's social construct, not intended to be specific, and not everyone my age applies to this. And I'm not immune or perfect either. It's something to maybe try and work on in my opinion.

Red Cloud

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Because I'm again heavily into writing my scripts, I want to try putting down the funnier lines. Not every single one, just a few; I don't want to just give everything away completely. It'll be like Wikiquote perhaps.

01. Pilot
Ian: This isn't going to last, is it?
Sam: I remember the good ol' times in high school when we didn't have classes together.
Ian: How could you leave something on the seat next to you like that?
Sam: How could Marcin's classes be in the opposite direction?
Ian: I'm wondering the same thing.
Sam: No you're not.
Ian: Of course I am.
Sam: Am not.
Ian: You're being an idiot.
Sam: No, you are.
Ian: This won't last.
Sam: Am not.
Ian: Idiot!
Kevin: I live in Kanata. Yeah, see, it's about 13 kilometres from here in a straight line going slightly northwest from here.
Sam: I see. ...I don't know how many kilometres in a straight line Eganville is from here.
Kevin: You guys aren't close eh? Well, you should get used to it at some point. If I were in your shoes I wouldn't survive if I had your personality.
Ian: And what personality is that exactly? A disabled one? A tiny one?
Kevin: A pessimistic one.
Ian: Uh-huh.
Ian: He thinks our parents are watching him as he sleeps. You know, you remind me of Marcin.
Kevin: What? Photos? Martian?
Ian: Not Martian, Marcin. It's Polish for Martin.
Kevin: Why not just say Martin?
Sam: Hey Marcin! How was your day?
Marcin: Great! I saw Mark, Heather, Bradley, Samantha, Duncan, Haleigh, Vicki, Robin, Brooke, Darren, and Leah!
Sam: Who?
Marcin: Where are you from?
Kevin: Kanata. It's boring there.
Marcin: Nonsense! I love it there! They have an amazing bedrock layer underneath all that soil!
Ian: Harold. I have something to say.
Mr. Harold Strum: Go ahead, I'm all ears.
Ian: We like you.
02. My Sister Blackmailed Me
Kevin: You're like twins, do you two share the same taste in girls?
Ian & Sam: No.
Marcin: Hey guys! I'm in between classes and thought I'd stop by since none of my other friends have coincidentally engaged me.
[Ian and Sam gawk while Kevin looks around with bewilderment]
Marcin: Newman? Lyndsay Newman? Oh, I know who you're talking about.
Sam: Really? What do you know?
Marcin: Nothing much in particular. I just know her older sister's dating a friend of my friend Lauren's cousin Tom.
Ian: Now how do you put that together? How?
Sam: You're a good wingman, Kevin. This is helping.
Kevin: I do my best. Oh, my god, oh my god, I can't wait for this...
Ian: Wingman, you're over-psyching yourself again.
Kevin: Shoot. You're right. I'll calm down. Thanks for helping coach me along.
Ian: No problem, I try my best to be the best impartial person who walks on the right side of you two.
Sam: Technically, she said no.
Ian: He pulled up to a blonde at a bus stop once, rolled down his window, and blasted 'Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into my Car' by Billy Ocean from the radio.
Sam: Guys!
Kevin: Who's Billy Ocean?
Kevin: I knew it!
Sam: Knew what?
Kevin: You two are just like the twins you are! You both like girls at the same time!
Sam & Ian: That doesn't make us alike!
Sam: You haven't heard the end of this. Come on, Kevin.
Kevin: Good job, Ian!
Sam: Let's go!
Ian: We're twins but we're nothing alike.
Lyndsay: Really? You sort of look alike.
Ian: And there, you come to the end of the list of similarities between us other than age.
[Sam and Ian put up their hands]
Mr. Wakefield: Yes?
[Both think the professor was pointing at him]
Sam & Ian: Can I go to the bathroom?
Kevin: See! You twins do think alike!
03. Parties Interfere with My Records
Kevin: Sam?
Sam: No, you talk to him. He's my brother and I've spent eighteen years talking to him.
Ian: Fourteen. You couldn't even talk until you were four.
Lyndsay: (On the phone): Yes...yes...yeah...that's probably a good thing, Hen, I'm sure. Super-sure. He made a blanket fort? Why? Private time? Sounds weir...nice. No, I meant nice. I meant nice! It IS a good thing! Okay, I'll talk to you later. [Hangs up] Sigh. They seem so perfect together.
Henrietta: Is that your boyfriend I just met?
Lyndsay: Yes! We had our first date a few days ago. That's why I couldn't come Halloween shopping with you. I told you he wasn't pretend.
Sam: You look like I just dragged your mind into the trashcan on my desktop. Delete!
Ian: I think Lyndsay's my girlfriend.
Ian: I don't know her last name.
Marcin: Oh, yeah. My cousin's friend's barber's daughter. That's right. They have a shop on Greenbank Road.
Ian: Marcin, what else do you know?
Marcin: Well, I've never had a haircut there but I heard they're a family-owned business so I bet you it's first-rate.
Marcin: There's a positive to every outcome, bro. Remember that.
Kevin: Ian! What are you doing here?
Ian: Marcin invited me. Just checking it out.
Kevin: That's great! I don't know where Sam is.
Ian: Did you make this? [Kevin is under a blanket fort]
Kevin: No, some bloke named Brett did! He's in the washroom, I'm just holding the fort until he comes back, he's so cool!
Lyndsay: Hey Sunshine.
Ian: I'm Ian. I'm not Kevin pretending to be Ian.
Lyndsay: I know. I'm not drunk like your brother is. And I'm not Henrietta pretending to be Lyndsay, just in case.
[Marcin arrives in an unusual costume].
Marcin: Hello, gentlemen.
Sam: Hey, Mar...
Ian: Cin. Nice hat.
Marcin: I thought I'd do half and half this year.
Lyndsay: Where's Sam and Kevin?
Ian: Oh, they're off with Marcin. Said something about going to get a haircut.
Sam: This is awesome. Next time I kill you, Kevin, I'll have these spikes to help me.
Kevin: They won't penetrate orange hair.
04. Everyone Deserves my Good Humour
Sam: You've never met the guy.
Ian: I don't think I ever need to.
Kevin: Oh come on, you can't judge someone you've never met.
Ian: What do you think everyone does within the first few seconds of meeting someone?
Sam: Well, if you're Marcin, you say something like "Hi! I remember you from somewhere. Let me think - oh! My sister's boyfriend's cousin's aunt's grandmother's godchild's best friend in childhood!" Or something just as discom...discom...discombobulatte.
Ian: What!?
Kevin: I think he means it confusing?
Ian: No, I think the best word is convoluted...but I'll be dishonest if I don't feel a bit discombobulated right now.
Sam: Ian, we've got a suppository for you.
Ian: A suppository? I don't want one.
Sam: Oh, I think you'll like it.
Kevin: Sam, that's not what a suppository is...
Ian: Why the heck would I like something jammed up my ass?
Sam: ...Well it's not like there never is anything up there.
Ian: It's not like I've ever been on a date before, this'll be my first...fake time.
Marcin: I'm just here to observe and maybe meet some new people.
Kevin: What new people?
Sam: Hey Brent, how's it going?
Brent: Not too bad, hey it's a good thing that blonde walked in here, I was sort of following her, I could have missed this. What's up guy?
Ian: What's Brett like? Apart from the blanket fort he made of my bed the other week, I don't know much.
Ian: Can I ask what he's like?
Henrietta: Of course. He's an inch taller than me and likes the word 'optimum' right now.
Lyndsay: I would have thought there was a lot more depth to him.
Henrietta: Oh he's nothing if not deep. Ian, there's no doubt my sister's probably a fun phase for you at the moment, so I'll just say that when you find a girl that makes you feel like you, keep her close and don't let her go.
Henrietta: Would you call Ian the optimum boyfriend?
Lyndsay: No...
Henrietta: Would Ian call you the optimum girlfriend?
Lyndsay: No, but...
Henrietta: My advice stands.
Lyndsay: No, it doesn't! We wouldn't call each other 'optimum' simply because we wouldn't use such a silly word!
Henrietta: Suit yourself.
Ian: Henrietta?
Henrietta: Yes, Ian?
Ian: I like you.
Lyndsay: They're the only couple in the world that would wear a silly Halloween costume for dinner at a restaurant.
Ian: I don't understand how you two got into such a dramatic argument over a plot element in Finding Nemo.
Benny: But what happened to Sarabi? She just disappear? Mufasa was trampled to death and the cub just ran away.
Marcin: I never thought of that. But I guess, when I saw The Lion King, I was just too young to consider that.
Lyndsay: Okay, I think we're done with this relationship nonsense.
Ian: Really? I was starting to enjoy it.

Hopefully I didn't go into too much depth. Otherwise I think those quotes aren't too bad. I restate that none of those names are based off of anyone yet I did get them off of people around me, past and present. Only Marcin and Brent are remotely based off of the real people they're named from.

Red Cloud

Friday, August 22, 2014


It's been a long time, but I've slowly been starting and eventually re-starting and continuing my scripts for the series Bedford's College. It's not a real television show - yet, anyway.

It's something that was born in March of 2012 when I was thinking about how you can play with names sometimes. Some names are words for something else - April is a name as well as a month; Petunia is a name as well as a flower. Robin is a name (for both genders) as well as a bird. I pass a sign for some sort of establishment called the Plump Robin every time I go to my maternal grandparents.

My mind was focused on someone in my past back then, and I almost instantly came up with a conversation that used her name - as well as every name around her - in a comedic sense. This became a scene in which a small group of characters enters a lodge, having just finished a hike marked with a dump in a brook, a tumble into a glen, and the loss of one of their guys. Playing with this further, I developed a setting and basis, and came up with a character-driven story of young adults starting college.

One of the main points I came up with was that I would use the names of anyone I knew - but hardly any of the characters named after them would actually be based on anyone. The only original names were that of Ian and Sam Bedford - fraternal twins with completely opposing personalities thrown together in the same dorm room and classes.
Scene from the 'Pilot'

The main characters are the aforementioned twins, plus their friend Kevin (named after a friend in Toronto well-known in high school) and Marcin (Polish for Martin; an old Wal-Mart colleague). They quickly befriend a girl in class named Lyndsay (an old minor friend from high school) who brings along her older sister Henrietta (yes, we went to McDonald's).
Scene from 'Parties Interfere With My Records' (Episode 3).

Of course I've set up some running gags and in-jokes. Each episode will usually feature some unusual add-on of a feature or a repetitive turn-of-phrase (in the episode image'd above, the line 'don't you two start again' features twice from different characters). That might sound kind of unimaginative or dull, but it does have its effect. There are series-wide in-jokes, plus unique self-contained one-episode-only ones.
Scene from 'Everyone Deserves my Good Humour' (Episode 4)

Ian is similar to what I'm like in general (though more in the past): Introverted, pessimistic, though unlike me, also well-disciplined and studious. Very dry and sarcastic. Sam is the opposite: Outgoing, easily warm, not interested in schoolwork, a little wayward even. Can wear his emotions on his sleeve (as he will in future episodes I've only written outlines for). Kevin is his perfect match as a friend; as for Marcin, who actually is slightly based off of the real guy I knew, the running joke with him is his unlimited, constant greetings or call-outs to people he knows, anywhere at anytime. When Kevin asks why the twins need his urgent opinion on a needless issue in one scene, Ian's explanation is that his friends Duncan, Tyler, Mackenzie, and Tyler's cousin Cheryl cancelled their luncheon that afternoon. (Yes, real-life people. One a best friend, another an aunt, and so on).
Scene from 'My Sister Blackmailed Me' (Episode 2)

It may have taken me two years to get three and a half scripts written thus far (I have outlines for an entire first season in another document) but it's just something I get going on, write, and then stop and forget for awhile. At least they have some good themes and lines. And more people come into the picture: In the fourth episode I finally got back into writing, a new character named Brent is introduced; this is the only other character based on the real person in minor ways (both enjoy potty humour and shows like Family Guy). Henrietta has a boyfriend who is never once seen in the entire series (Henrietta herself isn't a major character) named Brett; all that is known about him is only revealed through bizarre phone conversations between Lyndsay and her sister. It's another running joke that for me was inspired slightly by Home Improvement (the character of Wilson, never having his entire face shown). I intend the character to be, while extremely eccentric/quirky (he spends a dorm room party hidden inside a blanket fort on Ian's bed) one that actually gives a lot of good, though unseen, advice.
Scene from 'Parties Interfere with my Records' (Episode 3)

The only thing for me really would be to just keep writing. The twins both manage to get girlfriends later on in the season, but I'm not revealing too much. Marcin is probably the most fun to write. The episode I'm working on now has a running joke where Sam constantly tries to use big words, hopelessly mispronouncing them or misusing them (he flips 'proposition' with 'suppository'). Everyone keeps telling him to KISS (Keep it simple, stupid) but he doesn't understand what he's supposed to 'kiss' until an unlikely character, Brent, spells it out for him by the end of the episode.

I just need to keep writing. I've got some promising (or so I think) outlines that just need to be written. I've also got a tonne of quotes written in advance from each episode outline to help me get started. I just need to be like Ian and discipline myself.

Oh, and that original scene that started this all will feature in the 'Awkward Hiking Trip' episode (I think it's #6).

I wonder if I will ever sell this one can dream.

Red Cloud

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Colder, Darker, Shorter, Better?

I undoubtedly feel a yearning, deep down, for the coming autumn and winter.

Most in this climate might ask why. Winter has more grey days than sunny, and the sunny days are the coldest. Whatever light there is doesn't last long, people are bundled up, winter storms take traffic to hell, the trees are leafless and bare, and it's just not nice.

There are other reasons, but for the nature ones, I don't really know why. For some reason, I prefer the colder temperatures, the early nights, the slush and the snow. In Autumn I like the transition from summer to winter, the change. One night in November, I was driving home from class. It was an extremely foggy night. On Greenbank Road at night, when you drive through the greenbelt between West Huntclub and Fallowfield at Barrhaven, you can see the distant lights of Barrhaven in the south, and the distant lights of Woodroffe Ave. to the east. Sometimes the much dimmer lights of Cedarview Road to the west. That night, it was like I was speeding through a tunnel of light only generated by myself and oncoming cars, with a wall and ceiling of fog. It was awesome while listening to the radio. No external lights from anywhere else, just that reflected by the fog from the headlights.

I guess it's just how I prefer it, and I wouldn't have said this a few years ago. Traditionally my favourite times of the year have been March to July - Early spring to mid-summer. The flowers are in bloom, it's getting warmer while the days get longer. The complete opposite of what I'm talking about now.

The other reasons not associated with the climate or nature are pretty straight-forward: I start a semester in college; I see people there every day; my days are therefore filled up with something other than just Wal-Mart and home. Thanksgiving, and almost above all, Christmas. I can cuddle in a blanket, and feel warm and comfortable inside knowing it's not like that outside. Last autumn I had the best time ever with someone, and I'm finding I'm beginning to think about those memories more often the closer the time comes to when I lived them.

In all senses, I'm just busy whereas in summer the days are hot, long, and boring. A lack of a lot of friends is probably one reason, but I'm sure you don't generally see your friends every single day even if you have a lot of them because most people my age and up have part-time jobs or even careers started. So it's endlessly long days of working part-time, almost at a full-time frequency because there isn't any school or other activities to keep you. Sure, there are skirts and bikinis and summer breezes and camping, etc., but again, that's probably easier if one had a lot of friends, especially a group that's close, or at least a girlfriend. Or a brother/sister without much of a rivalry.

I can try to remember most of my summers...they were pretty good until about 2005. Prior to then, I'd wake up and hang out with my best friend all day. That was in Parkwood Hills. We lived directly across the courtyard from each other. I'd open my door, he'd open his simultaneously. I recall one afternoon where we watched Men in Black in various poses in the living room...and then re-watched it all over again the next afternoon, him on the couch and me lying on the dining room table. Those were different, better days. Then I came to Barrhaven and sat at home or hung out in the backyard unless I went swimming on my own at the Walter Baker Centre. Then I got Facebook in 2010 and...there you go. Add Wal-Mart for 2011 and it's quite easy to paraphrase it to the present. The only high times are the family camping trips (ones with my father are merely just okay) or other minor family functions.

The good thing to think about here is that I intend this to be my last dull summer. Next year will be much different, and I know it. Partially based on the changes I've been working on personally, and largely on my dedication to moving on from college and everything to do with it, moving on from Wal-Mart and everything to do with that. I'm going to spend this lovely winter working hard to achieve great marks and averages, and figuring out the best direction career-wise for myself, and then I'm going to get a perfect field placement and start my career through that. Whatever it ends up being. No part-time receiving, a real full-time job that pays well and not minimum wage.

I've heard several people use the phrase "I'm going to become a real person." Which from their contexts means they're starting their career path and transitioning into becoming a fully independent, responsible adult. I intend to do/be the same by next April. Oh, yeah. I've done my time at Wal-Mart and I'll have two college diplomas. I paid for my tuition on Friday myself. I've been paying my way through this last program since January. It's up to me. It's my money. Let's make it work.

Red Cloud

Friday, August 15, 2014

Good People

In February, I was a lot more frustrated and closed-up than I was now. I looked at my social life through a lens of pessimism and negativity; I wasn't up to seeing possibilities over what I didn't have or couldn't get. I was largely interested in myself and expecting/hoping people would come to me, with a focus on hoping a girl would. Then I managed to re-arrange my focus and see things in a different light, and work my way towards what I've achieved thus far: being more bright and personable with my relatives, more talkative at family functions, listening to what people had to say in conversations rather than focusing on what I wanted to say, talking to female colleagues at work for the first time.

But during that time, while frustrated, I had the wrong idea about Facebook. I thought I'd have a better relationship with the people I had on it, when I didn't. It didn't make anything better. So, after having a conversation with one of them, I went through in my low spirits and deleted over sixty people, all based on this question: Did I have a personal relationship with them in any way? Yes or No? No? Unfriend. I went from around 89 friends to 34. Really. The ones I kept were relatives and other people I had somewhat of a relationship with (in person) as well as one or two I just didn't want to delete.

It was quite a fast and abrupt thing; I got rid of a lot of people in a short time, largely because with less people it would likely be less distracting, and might help me stay away from it more often.

Of course, having come from that and overcome certain things and made attempts to get more out there, it was really me who had the wrong idea. Social networks aren't there to give you friends or relationships or whatever. They don't give you anything. All they're there for is connections; it's easier to keep in touch with someone when you have them on a social network. It isn't so you can make friends, it's so if someone you know wants to do something or is having an occasion, you have that opportunity because you'll know through that. It's for maintaining connections to people. You don't go on Facebook to stare at other peoples' photos and newsfeeds and look at their good times, you go on there to receive a message from someone or an invite to something. It's a social tool, not a miracle-bringer.

I finally realized after a lot of thinking that what I did was stupid, which led to me re-adding at least a dozen people, complete with apology message. I'm not going after every single person - there were people I had on there where I had absolutely no relationship with them in any way - but the majority of those that were simply just meaningful people. Several were very happy to hear from me again and instantly accepting. I was missing out.

This is probably one of the final stages of my transgression to a positive social life full of opportunity. I used to get invited, now and then, to parties or events, all through these people. Now I'm returning and ensuring connections that could lead to new opportunities - ones wherein I'll definitely be sociable and maybe even meet new people, make new connections. Because I know that Facebook isn't about watching what someone puts on the newsfeed - it's about connections and utilizing those connections to jumping on or creating opportunities when they occur. I guess you could say, after four years, I finally get it.

Red Cloud

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Lunch at McDonalds (Four Years Ago)

This morning, I had a very uncharacteristic, unusual dream. I was with a couple of girls from high school, and after waiting for one of them on Prince of Whales, the three of us hung out in a nearby McDonalds. It wasn't on Merivale, it was the one near Hog's Back. The dirty blonde one did more talking than the brunette, and then we parted ways after one forgot her debit card and I had to go to the bathroom.

These two do exist in real life. And we did go to a McDonalds. But yet, I very, very rarely have a dream in which one or the other or both appear. After I got up, the date came to mind via an unrelated train of thought (my final year of college is getting closer) and it hit me - today is the 12th of August, which was the very day this actually happened, four years ago. My brain must have unconsciously connected the date with that affair and caused me to have that dream.

Even though they were only infrequent friends, I never have named them in direct relationship with these matters on here. I didn't want to do it then because I didn't want the whole world - or rather, people they knew - locating them online here because I was afraid of sounding strange or creepy. Of course that was a construct created by my mind thanks to the fact I had a crush on both of them. I don't want to do it now because I don't feel like giving something the odd obsessed person wants - I've never revealed any names in particular, and even now, years after it ended, I still get the random search for "ruskin" or "brooke" or some other name. There are no doubt more limits I should have given myself on the basis of writing about people, or how I felt about certain ones in particular, but I didn't and I'm not revealing anything more.

The original affair did take place on the 12th of August, 2010. The original time a very simplified version of what was implied; it actually came about after I asked one of those girls out via Facebook. I was turned down - that was fine, all it did was cause me to make more mistakes while playing bass to Madness stuff that night - but it was suggested that we hang out in the future. That led to what would come that August. Originally it was suggested that we go downtown and try an old theatre called the Bytowne, with McDonalds or someplace afterwards - but it ended up just being McDonalds altogether.

I was looking after my father's kids - my half-brother and sister - when we did it. It's all put down in individual posts for each day of the job. This affair was a part of it, for "day 9." All it really was was a simple three-hour conversation between me and two girls from high school. We had food - I ate my normal meal while one had a miniature version and the other had a snack wrap thing - and it was kind of surreal. I haven't led the perfect example of a sociable, normal life. I hadn't ever hung out with girls before, in any way or fashion. I never even really talked to them. The first time I ever tried was with the brunette of these two, and it's funny remembering it: I got her attention one morning in school and said over and over again the sentences "I just wanted to talk to you" and "I hope I don't sound weird." That was 2009. I was almost 18. Imagine that. I was pretty far behind, and I still am, but I'm doing much better now.

Reading the post in which I talk about it, I can't help but criticize or tsk at it. The writing isn't as cohesive, it sounds obviously younger, and I'm overly open about how amazing it is to go out with two girls. Too excited. The casual throw-out mention of 'getting drunk and making what I think are new friends in the market' sounds like silly teenage girl diary material to me now. Eh. I guess you can really change over four years.

As for those two, the original idea that was made in the midst of all our positivity and excitement that day was that we'd definitely do it again the following year. The next spring, I suggested spending the day walking around Mooney's Bay with the brunette, ensuring to mention that I didn't mean it as a date. Despite that, I was slightly over-complimentary to her all day. She stayed on her guard and returned each compliment back in the same fashion. While I may have sounded like I was trying to be flattering and even winning or charming, the larger source of those compliments were simply in my nature. If I'm attracted to you and like you, it won't matter if you have a boyfriend; what I'm saying is what I think is true, and I'm giving you what I think you deserve in compliments regardless of the relationship. I'm not the type who thinks I deserve a girl just because I'm that nice friend.

That would really be it. The second time around never happened. I regrettably made an honest mistake - it was a writing-related thing, nothing to do with here - and that only led to an unfortunate distancing that got worse. But in the bigger picture, it's probably good because you can't have a friendship with someone wherein you see them once a year at McDonalds. How is that a friendship? There was never a way for it to develop more than that because both left the city for their education. I used to argue that I wasn't part of the social group, and I wasn't. It would be the same as my social group being Brent and Bryan and Duncan, maybe Imad, and I sit with a girl from work at the in-store McDonalds, and see her socially once in awhile, and she likes me or wants to be my friend, but she's not in my little group. Not that this would likely happen to me, but she would be an outsider. I was an outsider to a small group of girls and probably their boyfriends. Count me apart. It would be natural and right to do so.

Anyway, it's just kind of nice to remember this occasion. It was a first-time, one-of-a-kind affair for me. I've never gone on a date, believe me. I'm a late starter though I haven't started yet. At least I'm talking to girls in a social manner these days now. You can go ahead and see how pathetic it is, but I don't care. At least I'm making my way. Slowly is better than still. It was quite a nice day and always will be in my memory.

One more thing: Say you were in a position like me and you were just an infrequent outsider of a friend to an attractive girl, and say you asked if you could take a picture with her and she said no - let's do that later with her friend (which never happened). Comes off as slightly uncomfortable. Then say years later you get to know someone who was at a party and this same girl turned out to be there, and say you saw a picture of the two of them together despite both only knowing/seeing each other that one time. Wouldn't that sound kind of 'unfair' in a way? I unfortunately know the feeling.

Red Cloud

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Second Time 'Round

The other day, an idea hit me. I do a lot of music reviews on here - almost entirely of older songs - and that's it. I review them once, usually grade them, and move on. But what if, after a year or so of not really listening to a song anymore, I listened again and reviewed it all over again? It's like a test of how 'timeless' a song might be.

I'm going to try that. Normally a song will pass through a heavy rotation with me, where I'll listen to it every day, more than once. Every song tapers off at different consistencies - one song might stick with me a for a couple of months, another might be around for half a year to a year, ranging from being played more than once a day to at least once every few days. I'm going to do very short write-ups of ten songs of the past - my past in listening - and do a sort of "half-grade." I'm making a reference there to how radiation has a half-life. It could be the same as "depreciation" - the longer you have a vehicle, the more it depreciates (lowers in value). The longer you listen to and know a song, the more it gets boring or predictable, depreciates, half-lives, etc. I'll listen to each song once before re-reviewing them below.

1. Our House
Madness, 1982
This is the oldest, longest-listened to song for me. I hardly ever listen to it these days, if at all. What started in something like 2001 or 2 as heaven while riding home with my maternal aunt blossomed into a decade of very slow tapering off for my listening ear. When my mother downloaded the five-minute remix of the song for me around 2003, I virtually listened to it every half-hour. I know.

Hearing it today, it has its old charm, but I'm well-attuned to it. Still, the trumpet/sax chirps gave me a gentle smile, the piano still sounded warm, and the strings flowed throughout. In my 2010 review on here of it, I'd described it as "clever." It still is, and those seven guys (and their producers) really nailed it hard, but (my 11-year-old self would gawk at this) the thirty-second version of it I hear in those Bell wireless TV commercials is good enough for me. It's still good - but my excitement is long, long gone.
Music: A
Lyrics: B+

2. Der Kommissar
After the Fire, 1982
This was a song I heard in bits and pieces via TV commercials and a one-hit wonder program. The guitar riff was always around, and then I heard the chorus and became hooked. That was 2010.

If you want to listen to it, I'd recommend the music video version. The actual length of the song is 5 and a half minutes - I almost gawked at it when I listened to it just before writing this. The introduction and post-chorus lead-in is multiplied so that it repeats twice with very minor instrumental changes or introductions (like keyboard melodies or riffs). Basically you get the same electric guitar riff over and over. Also, I find the singer sounds kind of funny - his voice just sounds overly excited with the gossipy-sounding tale he has of the girl he met. "They're rapping here and rapping there but she's climbing up the wall!!" Boy. The organ melody/riff during the final choruses brings back some synesthetic memories and people, and the little keyboard solo in the same final half of the song is still great, but otherwise it's an overlong musical with a singer who sounds darkly excited and silly.
Music: C+
Lyrics: B
I never wrote a review of it on here - I can't find one anywhere - and all I can say is that it was only ever good for its choruses. I'll take Falco's much shorter original easily. Wha-oh!

3. E=MC2
Big Audio Dynamite, 1985
Like 'Der Kommissar,' watch the music video version. The proper song is four seconds shy of six minutes.

I don't think I ever did a review of that on here either, but it was another song for the spring of 2010. I originally first heard it on one of those Galaxy music channels, which my mother often listened to. I liked it for its keyboard sound, which gave me the impression of cellos and other low string instruments, which itself led to me thinking about academics and the snobby. Combined together, how smart we have proven to be as a species. I realize that's an extremely optimistic point of view - but that was the cumulative, overall thought that helped my interest in the song four years ago. The title and apparent lecturing of 'relativity,' etc. in the chorus also helped.

In reality the song is an interminable list of call-out references to some old movies the songwriters liked. The Wikipedia articles lists a few of them, all of which I've never heard of. The song goes on like this forever - Mick Jones makes a reference to a character or his/her circumstances, and in each verse makes at least three or four references to different characters/circumstances whether they're connected or not. Maybe the song is his way of celebrating what he likes to watch in a fun way via obscure references. The music plays the same way the entire time, with a few breaks, and only three different variations of guitar riff. The drums sound generated. There isn't any musical direction or change, and Mick Jones spiels out reference after reference in quick mention-call style. Eh.
Music: D+
Lyrics: C
The funny thing is how interested and constant I was with the song only four years ago. Inspired by its video (which just cuts from movie scene to movie scene) I did my own 'clip video' using the song, substituting almost every video clip I had from over the years from my camcorders/cameras and using voice recordings of my own over the film voiceovers in the song. If I reviewed it here originally, I probably would have given it something like a B+ on both lyrics and music. But that was then.

4. Ah! Leah!
Donnie Iris, 1980
When I first heard this song, it was briefly while at that SFY thing I participated in four years ago (wasn't that a time). I just heard the chorus, and it stuck in my mind while never thinking to listen and hear the artist/song name. Then, months later, by coincidence, it appeared on that Galaxy TV thing my mother was watching, and I had it figured out. It gave me almost the same excitement as 'Our House' did - I was listening to it several times over three hours the first night I found it on YouTube.

I got an old-fashioned feel-good reaction when I listened to it again. It isn't long an interminable, it isn't the same progression played from beginning to end, it's a good ol' rock-oriented song that sounds refreshing. The high-end vocals in the chorus sound almost heavenly like they used to, like they're announcing a presence that's to be bowed down to.

My original review on it here (May 2nd, the day I finally heard it fully) states "It's really an amazing song, chorus-wise, but also verse-wise, even if it tends to be all about happy memories or thoughts of sexual encounters with someone who is absolutely amazing in bed, which most songs seem to be about. This one gives a bright, positive feeling to it though, which helps it be so great." While I wouldn't listen to it every day now, it still gives me a slight smile. It's those backing vocals, the chorus. That feeling of happiness and adoration when you see the one you love when you get in the door - that's how I interpret the intonation of the voices in the chorus. Just nice. In 2011 I gave the whole song an A+. Today, it gets a B+. Not bad.

5. Freeze Frame
J. Geils Band, 1981
The song with the very identifiable organ introduction. Hearing it again, it doesn't really give me much of a rise. It just sounds like it always did. The brass is kind of good, and the song sounds catchy, but it doesn't get any better than it did when I first heard it properly, which was out of curiosity. I could play the entire song minus brass on each instrument to a relatively okay degree - I wouldn't be perfect on the guitar but the chords are simple and expected. I downloaded a .mogg file of it fairly recently and listened to each instrument; for the first time I realized that the bassist does a sort of punchy-sounding slap pick riff between the C and A# parts. I can hear it within the rest of the song now, but it was something I never picked up on originally because each slap is so isolated from the others, and quick. In my original review I noted how most of the lyrics related to photography terms or phrasing but didn't particularly praise it; I just said it was 'engaging.' I'd given it a B & a B+ for its music and lyrics. I'd give it a B & B- now because it just sounds routine and not particularly refreshing for the over-used progression it uses.

6. Message to my Girl
Split Enz, 1983
This is the only one so far that gets better with age than worse. Listening to it again, I enjoyed all of it - the music, the lyrics, the tone, atmosphere, everything. The lyrics are sweet, even the music video is pretty neat. There's an essence and what sounds like a sighing sound throughout that's just appealing.

I first reviewed the song in 2011. I put a lot of interest into the music video (as that's where I first heard it). I didn't really include a lot of synesthetic scenes in my reviews back then, it seems - like, for instance, how the bass sometimes makes me think of one walking in high spirits along a street in New York City. The bass line changes and works its way around its procession instead of playing the same notes over and over, which keep it interesting and unpredictable. The whole song starts in and relies on C#, and probably its major scale as well. I gave it an A- back then. I'll give it an all-around A this time around. It's great.

7. Around the Bend
Asteroids Galaxy Tour, 2007
This would be the only song out of all the ones here that comes from the last decade. I liked it when I originally listened to it for its horns and guitar riffs. The girl singing it was all right. I wrote about it in 2011 and described the guitar as sounding like someone in the background originally being cynical about everything, but ending up pleasantly surprised and cheering.

These days I wouldn't listen to it with a high volume thanks to the woman's high-pitched voice, but it's all right. It still sounds pretty good, and brings back certain synesthetic memories or thoughts that the music gave me. Otherwise the vocals sometimes sound a bit childish and the music repeats the same progression the entire time. It's not a big deal to me anymore - but still lightly catchy. The music was originally an A-, the lyrics a B+. Today - A-, B+. Nothing really changes.

8. Misunderstanding
Genesis, 1980
We're coming into recent times now - I really got into this in late 2012, early 2013. I loved the progression and sound, and in particular, the 'whoo' vocal response at the end of each verse during the chorus. It became, at some point, a small outlet for my frustration at failed relationships with girls (mostly on my part but also on the parts of some of those girls, particularly on the long-distance one, plus two others). The big thing for me then was the piano moving to a reactionary F minor chord (from G minor). I say reactionary because that chord is hit as a reaction both musically as well as to the lyrics. It sounds surprised and dismayed.

I listened to it earlier today and yesterday. It made me smile all over again. It's another song that continues to stay as good as it was awhile ago. I'd give it the same grade as I did in my original review which went in-depth with the F minor chord on the piano. I noted that the song, from the vocals to even little things like open hi-hats, really exudes hardship and emotional turmoil. Then and now: A-/B+ (Music/lyrics).

9. Rasputin
Boney M., 1978
I really enjoyed this song throughout the spring and summer of 2013. The entire thing is in B. Literally. From bass to strings. I thought it was ridiculous at first, and funny, and then I grew to just enjoy it for what it was.

It was fun to listen to again, but not something I would put on every day, or even once a week. It's a bouncy story that's sensationalized like crazy and sounds very European. Not that that's bad, it's just a specific sound that I've grown used to. It doesn't really depreciate in my mind, but it also doesn't raise in value; it just sounds generally good, brings back some synesthetic memories and faces (thanks to the preponderance of Bs being hit) but it otherwise doesn't stir any greatness in me.

10. I Love L.A.
Randy Newman, 1983
This is the most recent song I've gotten into, in spring this year, so I'm just at the point where I'm hardly listening to it anymore. When I first heard it, and wrote my first review, I was enamoured of the keyboard introduction - not the mellow, quiet piano intro where he's complaining about New York and Chicago, but the jaunty, bright keyboard synth thing that follows right after. I liked the way the song was set up.

Now I'm just simply bored of it. That's how I start tapering off its rotation with my ears. It gets boring. It sounds overly American in some kind of way. Look at that tree! That mountain! Have backing singers ooh and aahh in certain parts to build up a climax, make it all shiny and finely-produced. I still like Newman's piano progressions throughout the song, but it sounds kind of decadent otherwise. The music video took that over the top with the shots of chrome grills and bikinis. I think it was written as a comment on both ends of the spectrum - the amazing scenery and backdrop of L.A. behind that bum "on his knees." Anyway, originally I graded the song as A for the music and B+ for the lyrics. By now, I'd give it a B+ for music and a B for lyrics. It's pretty good - just a little too decadent and polished. But I still like the "big nasty redhead at my side" line quite a bit. I can really relate to his taste. I read a quote by him that goes "The open car and the redhead, the Beach Boys... that sounds really good to me."

Sounds good to me too. Anyway, up to now, that's my updated, second review on ten of the larger songs I've listened to (larger meaning higher/longer rotation of listening to) over the past four-five years. Maybe I'll come back in a few years and do it again for ten new songs I end up getting into in the future, or maybe doing ten all over again. We'll see. At least not all of them depreciated - 'Misunderstanding' and 'Message to my Girl' survived the test of time here. For now.

Red Cloud

Thursday, August 7, 2014


I feel like a silly teenager. I came close to writing "I'm bored" as the title of this post. I've seen that before particularly for blogs written by teenage girls. That's not me. I always have something to bring about, even if I don't.

I'm hungering to write something or other. I just can't think of anything. Lyrics? Bit of an effort and time there. Inane references to things in my life I constantly connect to each other unlike a lot of people? Not very good at spontaneously getting started in that kind of thing. I just deleted a paragraph of irrelevant nonsense that only matters to me and only works if a lot of needless explaining accompanied it.

I guess it's the silly teenage girl route. Found these on Tumblr (the perfect forum of bored teenage girls posting stuff like this).

1. Last Kiss
I don't know.
2. Last Phone Call
When my father's wife mis-dialled and called me while I was still asleep in bed. She was looking for my half-brother.
3. Last text message
From my eldest paternal cousin.
4. Last song you listened to
'Misunderstanding' by Genesis (hadn't heard it in months until I heard it at work this evening).
5. Last time you cried
May 23rd, 2010. The final scene of the Lost finale, though it was for another reason. The scene just helped me get started.
Have you ever:
6. Dated someone twice
If I counted that long-distance thing, and each time, then yeah, sure.
7. Been cheated on
Not to my knowledge.
8. Self-harmed
No. When I was a preteen I came close to pretending once or twice in class thanks to low self-esteem. Good ol' middle school...
9. Lost someone special
Not sure who to count. James isn't dead, he's in stupid Calgary and he's a great uncle to me. Long-distance person? Still not dead. Maybe mildly.
10. Been depressed
Of course, but no idea if it was ever clinical. More of a negative pessimism and attitude.
11. Been drunk and threw up
No, but I know I've been drunk at least twice (yeah, only twice. I don't find much alcohol that isn't sugar-filled very appetizing and I don't have much of a social life).
This year have you:
12. Had sex
13. How many people have you had sex with this year?
I did this sort of thing on Tumblr once and the sex-related questions were ridiculously highly frequent. Everything's so sexualized that the presuppositions run amok undeterred. None.
14. [Blank]
What? Where's 14?
15. Made a new friend
I've made some new work-colleague acquaintances, and a friend or two may arise from that, but otherwise I am not certain on that.
16. [Blank]
I wonder why this skips numbers.
17. Laughed until you cried
I've laughed until I've hyperventilated a few times, which has generated a tear or two, but that has never led to actual crying unless the one or two tears symbolize crying. This has usually happened while I'm off to sleep.
18. Met someone who changed you
I tend to be very stubborn around most people and it's rare when what they say tunes in for me despite the words being similar that it makes me see their perspective and consider it, and perhaps change. It's a slow process. But to answer, I don't really think so unless I take this year as from August 2013 to August 2014, in which case yes, someone has. A very colourful Serbian girl.
19. Found out who your true friends were
I already knew that to an extent, and they're very few. Probably Brent and Imad. Maybe Duncan (though I never see him), maybe Bryan. James from stupid Calgary.
20. Found out someone was talking about you
I know one of my condescending, self-involved co-workers has made fun of or put me down to other co-workers following something or other once or twice. Otherwise I have no interest in finding out because I'm going to automatically presuppose that it's negative.
21. [Blank]
22. [Blank]
Okay then.
23. [Blank]
This ain't to 100 now is it?
24. [Blank]
Useless (that's my signature expression these days).
25. [Blank]
Waiting. I'm a silly bored teenage girl ready to plaster myself egotistically online, like, c'mon...
26. What did you do for your last birthday
Sat at my maternal grandparents all day and played cards with them, and had dinner. That was my actual birthday and not including all the events that followed.
27. What time did you wake up today
I haven't gone to sleep yet, it's 2:05am. Yesterday, I got up at 10:30am. Ain't that something?
28. [Blank]
Like, whatever...
29. Name something you CANNOT wait for
To start my career, make some money, get out on my own, be my own independent person and be rid of Wal-Mart and its people and idiocy and blandness. Live my life.
30. Last time you saw all of your siblings at the same time
They're only related to me through my father. July 16th.
31. What is the one thing you wish you could change about your life?
My sociability. That I had a more outgoing, positive, engaging outlook when I was younger and achieved social milestones (like a social group, high school relationship, etc.). I've only really just been practicing at this for the past six months.
32. What are you listening to right now?
Well I can overhear the television upstairs but otherwise my typing is all I'm really listening to, if anything.
33. When is the last time you had sex?
I can't remember.
34. Who's getting on your nerves right now?
At this moment? No one. At work, the lead unloader. Too intense and aggressive with people, too expectant and eager, ready to do things he doesn't necessarily know how to handle rightly, just demanding and annoying for no reason.
35. Most visited webpage
I open about six of them every single day upon starting up my Mac. Gmail, Roger's (E-mail), Twitter, Lijit (blog stats), Tumblr, and Facebook. They stay open for the majority of the entire day.
36. Favourite colour
Green. Grass green. Specifically the shade of green of the grass in the courtyard from my childhood, in the morning, looking east.
37. Nicknames
Red Cloud, CampbellTrain, Juice, Dustbin (archaic, elementary school).
38. Relationship status
Undoubtedly single.
39. Zodiac Sign
That's the Chinese one right? Goat (1991).
40. Male or female
I'm male but right now I'm probably coming off sounding more like a young female, probably one who just graduated from the Twilight series and is excitedly on her way to reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Oh, yeah, Justin Bieber!
41. Primary school
Century P.S.
42. Secondary school
We're just going to list them all, eh? Sir Winston Churchill.
43. High school/college
Why is it "/"? I think it's more common that one comes after the other, and I also think it's rare a person never set foot in high school yet went straight to college. But I'll play along, hehehehe, "Merivale/Algonquin."
44. Eye colour
Something like a hazel-brown. I once got a photography classmate to use my camera with a macro lens to take a super-close shot of it. Looked like a big mixture of yellow and bruised blue.
45. [Blank]
You seem to have the invisible touch, eh?
46. Height
5'5" I believe. Very average height, not tall, not particularly medium, just short.
47. Do you have a crush on someone?
Not particularly. I've got a couple of types. I find people attractive and such, particularly when at work, but not enough to be infatuated or have a crush on anyone.
48. What do you like about yourself?
My inner compassion and natural tendency to nurture.
49. Piercings
None, those don't do it at all for me.
50. Tattoos
None, those also don't do it for me, at least on my own body. On someone else, I don't really care unless they're covered like crazy.
51. Righty or lefty
In which context? Politically? In the middle, I think. For my writing hand? Lefty, and proud of it. This goes for instruments as well, but not hockey or golf or scissors for some reason.
51. [Blank]
Blank to you too.
52. [Blank]
53. First piercing
Never had one.
54. First best friend
Good ol' Duncan. From 1st grade on. Oh yeah, circa 1997.
55. First hookup
First what? I don't know, can't remember.
56. First best friend
I didn't ask to repeat the question. Someone named Bula.
Right now:
57. [Blank]
That's not right now material.
58. [Blank]
59. Eating
60. Drinking
Had an iced-tea awhile ago but not now. Too late. (Or early).
61. I'm about to
...what? Ask this girl a question? Does it have to do with the Teenage Dream? Wait, let me get into my skin-tight jeans...
62. Listening to
This is getting repetitive. Listening to myself wonder at the same question over and over.
63. Waiting for
...oh, am I supposed to finish that? I'm not waiting for anything, what are you waiting for?
Your Future:
64. Want kids?
Yes, I do. They're something to nurture and raise and pass on both my genes and my knowledge/wisdom to. They're something to grow up and raise their own kids. It's a prehistoric need in me to continue my own genetic lineage, keep my part of the Campbell descendants going alive and strong, keep my legacy burning, and have people around to keep my records intact.
65. Get married?
Depends on the person. By my count it won't be religious. Might be good for arranging records or lifestyle management.
66. Career
That's one word. What's the question? Yes? I do want living and working towards something I'm automatically making one anyway, whether I get myself into the writing/photography world or stay at Wal-Mart and follow the career path there (like I'd ever do that).
Which is Better
67. Lips or eyes
Not that I know what lips are like, but either way, definitely the eyes. Their shape, their frame, their colour. Oooh, green eyes and hazel ones are the best. Blue eyes are cold to me.
68. Hugs or kisses?
I can go 50/50 on that one. Would probably prefer both at the same time.
69. Shorter or taller?
Considering I'm short, shorter. It's something I joke about in my mind now and then, if I see a pretty girl and she's easily taller than me, nope. I'm too short. Can't get on the ride, not tall enough.
70. Older or younger?
Both. At most one year older, two to three years younger.
71. Romantic or spontaneous
Romantic. But I also like spontaneous romance. Just like that chapter in New Moon, when Edward...
72. Nice stomach or nice arms
Arms. I don't see what's so attractive about the stomach unless it has to do with a fat overhanging one or a flat one.
73. Sensitive or loud
Sensitive. Loudness annoys the hell out of me.
74. Hook-up or relationship
Relationship. Oh, Edward! (But seriously, yeah).
Have you ever:
76. Kissed a stranger
Why would I have ever done that? Unless it was for one of those photographers whose portfolio theme is to bring strangers into intimate poses for the shot, in which case I never participated.
77. Drank hard liquor
Every time I go to my paternal grandparents,' my grandpa has me take at least one sip of Scotch or brandy. Because, in his words, I'm a "true Scot, a Campbell,' etc. etc...
78. Lost glasses/contacts
Thankfully, no. On the other hand, I've gone through three clip-on shades for my old frames and just recently, one clip-on shade for my newer current frames. I left them at my father's rental suite. If he's already left home for Jordan, which has been implied, then my clip-on shades have pointlessly gone with him. And those cost $20!
79. Had sex
I guess not. This factors into the whole "I wish I was better socially" thing above. Either way, even if I acquired a girlfriend, that wouldn't be the only prerequisite; being the right person and having a lot of respect are also factors.
80. Broken someone's heart
I probably did about four years ago, around October-November of 2010. That sure was one up-and-down long-distance thing. Maybe I did it again in January 2012, I'm not perfectly sure, she was all over the darn place.
81. [Blank]
Shut up!
82. Been arrested
Not in this life. I hope I'm not when I attempt to take a visit to the Merivale 50th anniversary event this fall. That sure was a hell of a needless predicament.
83. Turned someone down
No one has ever approached me with a proposition to turn down. I remember avoiding a girl in 7th grade when she wanted to dance with me at the dance...and I remember some random girl at work a few years ago asking me personal information with a friend of hers out of nowhere, leaving me to wonder what the heck was going on out loud rather than respond, but otherwise, unless you count foreign relationship robots, no.
84. Cried when someone died
No. The time in 1st grade when a teacher unknown to me died of a stroke doesn't count because I was crying out of my own then-literal way of thinking (apparently, the teacher told me the man's heart "attacked him" and I literally thought I was in danger of an actual attack by my heart, which scared the hell out of me).
85. Fallen for a friend
Considering almost all my friends have been male and in reality I am a young man who is not gay, no, I can't think of any time. The Serbian girl was someone I'd already become infatuated with before we became friends.
Do you believe in:
86. Yourself
To most extents, I do.
87. Miracles
No, but I do believe in certain irrational superstitions I've always manufactured on my own, whether it involves odd numbers or good Tuesdays or walking through the door on my right while walking eastward.
88. Love at first sight.
Nah. Infatuation at first or second-sight, however...
89. Heaven
I believe more in the science, but I think it's a very neat idea or concept, and I do hope deep down that I end up somewhere or other after I die, somewhere positive or good.
90. Santa Clause
After my grandparents and mother tripped up around the time I was twelve, the whole concept washed away quite suddenly.
91. Kiss on the first date.
How would I know? That's another milestone for the self-improvement question. Hypothetically, a hug and maybe a kiss on the cheek.
92. Angels
Once again, a neat concept, but no, not really.
93. How would you label yourself?
Independent. Would rather do his own thing, run the outfit, make it for himself. Stand out, be different. I tend to like girls who are very obviously non-conformist or different and strong about it.
94. Someone you pray everyday for
I don't pray. If I did, it wouldn't be for anyone; I know no one who I know would require the apparent power of my prayer to help them.
95. Did you sing today?
Once or twice I mockingly voiced a lyric or two from the speakers at work. But I did joyfully sing the 'whoo' call-back in 'Misunderstanding' a few times.
96. Who from all your ex's have you cared the most about?
There's only one, and I would be truthful in saying that I have cared the most about her, and consider her well-being very important and dear. That and her self-image.
97. If you could go back in time, how far would you go?
If it were not for personal reasons and I was not bound by the rule where I go back in time to when I was younger - and I'm actually younger and re-living the moment or time - then I'd explore my old neighbourhood throughout its entire existence through the years - so I'd go back to the early 60s and periodically jump ahead until I'm back in the present.
98. Out of everything in the world what do you wish for?
I don't know what to say. It's 3:11 in the morning now.
99. Are you afraid of falling in love?
Not particularly. Unless that ultimately means my heart is broken in the end. But that's such a common, predictable answer.
100. Do you like the way you look?
What a great way to end this whole thing. At least it wasn't something like "how many sexual positions have you tried this year?" Generally I'm okay with my appearance. I don't like my hair short and its just reached the point where it's long enough to look fine. If I look like I think I should naturally look, it's great. Just missing those $20 clip-ons that ended up in the Middle-East. At least they aren't in stupid Calgary. Now, I need to get through chapter three of Fifty Shades of Grey before I fall asleep. Goodnight.
What a way to waste time, eh?

Red Cloud

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


A month ago or so, I created a pseudo-DVD cover for the eighth edition of my journal. Instead of waiting until September, I decided to go ahead anyway and make the back cover and spine, creating an entire layout as a result:
Certain names were blacked out for posting here as real, full names were truthfully written in (after all, it is for my personal journal).

The reason I was originally going to wait until I finished this edition was because of any future images that could have come into good use for the boxes or other parts of the back cover. But I was able to manage with what I have now.

I went through four or five other DVD sets I have of television series for inspiration. The layouts of their back covers were quite diverse, some mixing a lot of imagery and colour in altogether and others merely using one big scene box, a couple of graphics, and mostly words. What I ended up doing was keeping it simple to match the front cover - all white with a plot summary/selling point, a few scene boxes, and simple warped box graphics. My half-brother on the camel was something I knew would always be there. As for the logos, those were shape graphics left over in Photoshop from the movie poster assignment I did in Photography (where I got the shapes from). While their existence in this thing probably raises some questions about their use, it's really only for my journal and this image here is a web-size thing that's low-quality.

What really makes me happy about this is what I was able to find and include in the boxes. The middle one is what looks like a typical shift at work, which it is. The framing and poses really look authentic to a scene from a TV show. The picture I used was one of the images from a time-lapse I'd done that day, using my GoPro. That's a GoPro image cropped in close. The guy with his fingers on the front cover was taken from a similar image in the same time-lapse. Most people eliminate the thousands of images they generated for time-lapse purposes. I'm glad I can find ways to reuse them. The bottom one is a screen capture of a scene from a thing I tried to film with my cousin, and it looks authentic as well. It's just the silly photograph in the top box, but it looks good enough. The purported authenticity of the thing is what makes me pleased with what I got; I was able to find some good relevant images to use that didn't look like pointless photos of just me or portraits, but proper action shots.

The final thing was the spine, which I did almost as an afterthought.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to putting it on the binder when the entire thing is printed. It looks pretty neat. The only thing about it really is that its simplistic white background and character grouping makes it look more like a debut, 1st season DVD rather than like an eighth season one. Most first-season series DVDs tend to be simple with the characters merely grouped around each other on a blank background. There are definitely others out there that for a debut look really creative, but I'd bet most first season television DVDs merely show all the characters sitting or standing together in a close group, with a blank or empty background. NewsRadio, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men, House (though all House DVDs have the same background/layout) Mike & Molly, etc. etc....they are all essentially simplistic.

Now it'll just be coming up with something completely different next year (for the 9th season of course). That'll be fun.

Red Cloud

The Great Bridge

Last month, that Strandherd-Armstrong bridge opened up to the public, months ahead schedule. It was greatly anticipated, and when I read the article about it in the local paper, it described the opening as a beautiful thing as families walked across it, the first cars drove across, and a councillor also went from one side to the other. Like it was a bridge to a whole new world of possibilities. Like two cities, having feuded for centuries, finally had a harmonious connection. It was a monument for the future, for generations to come. I'm pretty sure words along those lines were blithely put forward by the couple of city councillors, and mayor no doubt, upon completion of the bridge.

So, a week or so after, with it on my mind, I put my GoPro on the front hood of my car (via a suction cup mount), drove down Strandherd, and crossed the amazing bridge to meet these new possibilities - all in HD.
In approximately six seconds, I met them.

On the other side, there was an Independent, a bank, and a small host of other retail places in the strip mall around it. Otherwise, houses fairly new, and houses just finished construction made up the rest of the landscape, houses that were identical to the ones in Barrhaven, mostly. What a new world.

In the following weeks, I tried using the bridge over the Huntclub one to get to or from South Keys. Earl Armstrong to Limebank Road; Leitrim to Bank Street. Being dusk both times I went, I hadn't recently seen such a lonely, forlorn route. The roads are all small country two-lanes, with some forest, and at one point you pass the southern boundary of the airport, which gives one a slight alien feeling as you pass all the low-rise light towers, atop which sit glaring alien-like red lights. I'm sure it's a good place for photographers to gather to capture images of low-descending airplanes as they come in for the runway.

Coming to the bridge from the Riverside South direction, you don't actually see the road. The bridge has a downhill angle as the east bank is higher than the west bank (which is also true for the Huntclub bridge) and because the bridge is so short, the downhill angle is enough to make it look like you're not even crossing a river at all.

This bridge, I read (in the paper and later on Wikipedia) was first conceived in 1993. Twenty-one years ago. Then it just beat around the bush in the far corners of municipal government bureaucracy for years until the eastward development of Barrhaven really started fuelling congestion in between the Manotick and Huntclub bridges over the last ten years. When they finally started going forward with plans, it went through a year of consultations and environmental impact statements like usual before finally going forward - before the contractor then went bankrupt and delayed the bridge's construction for another two years. The fact it was finished months before its September opening was a huge miracle, apparently.

This really just goes to show how stupid silly little things can go. It's a tiny bridge. I counted the seconds - it really takes six seconds to cross it at the speed limit. It's 143 metres long. Gee. They narrowed the river over where it crosses. It should have been a no-brainer. Instead it was brought up and talked about and planned and bankrupted a contractor and sensationalized and ultimately glorified until everyone was throwing confetti just to spend six seconds driving to Riverside South or Barrhaven. Where was the fireworks?  I didn't read about those. There's nothing fancy about it other than the eye-catching trusses they built into a nifty pattern. I think those trusses are what made everyone focus on it, while meanwhile Jockvale Road just got its bridge replaced and doubled with virtually no notice or comment or "oh my god!" I wonder what the reception was like when the Huntclub bridge came along in the late 80s. It's much longer by comparison and while it might not have a fancy arch design or special bus lanes (that's another thing - Strandherd has cycle and bus lanes!) it's roomy and accommodating.

I personally think that this bridge, while it does have its definite merits (a co-worker who lives in Riverside South had his commute cut down by forty minutes) was howled about and sensationalized and written about and delayed quite literally to the stupid point for such a little bridge. Compared to any bridge crossing the much wider Ottawa River, or bridges like the Heron Road one which is divided into two and crosses two water channels and a road, or the Huntclub bridge, this should have been a piece of cake. Six seconds. Boy, oh boy. The most ironic thing about it is when I tried the old way, via Huntclub; that route actually felt, amazingly, shorter than the winding country/airport route. I live in Barrhaven. I'm further south than South Keys. Yet the old way felt shorter.

It's a great thing for people living in Riverside South, but otherwise, everyone - the municipal government, city councillors, media, Prime Minister, whatever - stop taking such trivial things to the stupid level. The Jockville bridge replacement added a second bridge for the northbound lanes. Heard about it maybe once or twice. I bet that one was easy. It was the fancy arching truss design overtop that had everyone focusing on it. That future look. That and the fact it connected Riverside South directly with Barrhaven.

Red Cloud

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

An Evening with Red Cloud

Two weeks ago, I put my musical skills out there, and played in a jam at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Bank Street.

It might be unusual that I never really mentioned this nor did I ever say a word about it until now, two weeks later, but eh, I've just been putting it off. I had to write about C#. I've been procrastinating quite a bit.

Growing up, my father and his brothers/sister naturally had neighbourhood friends. Quite a few of them are still around, and have since become something like surrogate uncles to me, ever since I was very little. One day in his apartment on Frank Street, my dad came up with the name "Red Cloud" and the nickname permeated the consciousness of every member of that social group around my paternal relatives. That's who I was to them. It was affectionate.

Then of course, one of the closer people, James, went out to stupid Calgary. He's the kind of rare person that I can talk to instantly with ease, and about anything, on an equal level. Once a year he drives across the country to Ottawa, and this year, he included me on the big get-together/jam session he arranges upon his arrival.

It wasn't really a concert or anything as much as it was a place for a lot of old friends and relatives to meet up and hang out, with the music and jamming a common interest and focus the majority of them, including myself, my uncle, and my father, lean towards. Turns out the Clocktower pub has a basement bar. After almost one hundred e-mails were exchanged between James, myself, and a host of other people, "An Evening with Red Cloud" was born.

Admittedly, it was me who suggested it - but it was a suggestion buried within about twenty other names I'd written down, including "Celtic Slavics," "Staged Artists," "The Band with Miche in it" (Miche has actually toured in the past) and many others. It was mostly a joke, but it was decided over "Blueberry Douche." As a result I was apparently the MC (though the only MCing I did at all that night was at the very end, when I thanked everyone for coming).

I provided the majority of instruments - my entire drum set, my keyboard + stand, my guitar and my bass, plus an amp which, it turned out, was actually owned by one of the other musicians, who took it home with him.
Nothing is too much for the Chipmunk.
Unfortunately there aren't any images of me as I was the only photographer with a good camera; my father is behind the drums.

A P.A. system was also set up, and line-outs, so it was almost like a concert except the majority of it was people just playing around. On bass, I contributed my generic ska song thing - the D A C C thing - and James and Miche took their guitars and somehow re-created the predictable, simplistic tune I had into something else completely refreshing and catchy in a new way. By contrast I was playing the simple bass line. Wow.

James brought an African piano teacher with him from Calgary, who was moving back to Montreal in the process, and he played some awesome stuff on my keyboard, stuff it won't likely see again played on its keys (definitely not by me!). Later, an obviously accomplished guitar player, also African, joined in. Using his fingers for everything, he was pretty awesome. Most of the time I played the drums, particularly filling in for one of the couple of real bands that played at their request. At one point I took over from the child banging on them while the professionals played (because I had a good rhythm idea) and as I played they both glanced over a few times with encouraging, pleasing smiles. It was a pretty neat experience altogether to play along with really good, competent musicians, and contribute alongside them to a harmonious sound or beat.

The only thing the night lacked was some good images; the room was so dark I couldn't take any image unless I used a stable surface and took a long exposure, or used flash, which I didn't want to use (my mother, who attended, could have picked it up and taken some images with it otherwise). It was an unusual, rare instance where both my parents were both watching me at the same time (the only other instance being last year's photography exhibition). Even my 8th grade homeroom teacher from Sir Winston, Riaz Mohommed, came along and enjoyed the whole thing despite knowing no one but me and my mother. He's another rare person I can instantly talk to about anything, with ease of conversation, on an equal level. Both my parents were happy and encouraging and obviously proud - which is, like I said, rare to see at the same time for the same thing, together.

I hope to do something like that again in the future. While I do like the idea of getting to a point where I'm my own one-man band save for singer, it really is fun, comfortable, and rewarding playing with others. I felt perfectly comfortable behind the drums, and almost just as so on the bass. Which is unusual, because I tend to think of myself as a natural bass player - and only adequate on the drums.

Anyway, 'An Evening with Red Cloud' was definitely a success, musically, technically, and in bringing people together and creating great things like memories and music.

Red Cloud

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Fifth Season

I've returned to watching NewsRadio again these days, largely because I enjoy the show's dynamic and characters, and also because I love Beth. And Phil Hartman. It's a good comedic show with great actors.

It's gone quite a bit further this time, because I've been actively searching for the seasons on DVD. I ended up at CD Warehouse after pointlessly looking in HMV at Bayshore, which is nothing but a haven of women's fashion and lingerie stores. They had the first two seasons together. Then I surprisingly found the 5th season at Giant Tiger when my mother wanted to go browsing around there to my annoyance. I bought it simply because it was there, it was a DVD, there'd be commentaries and more weird images of Matthew and attractive ones of Beth on the cover. Why do I say this? I never watched the fifth season. I was never interested. I didn't want to watch something that had a void left by Phil Hartman and no doubt not actually filled by Jon Lovitz. I didn't think it would really work without him there.

Having the DVD, I had to watch it now. Maybe the series found a way to redeem itself after it was left in disarray due to Hartman's murder. I didn't know. I watched it.

Firstly, Giant Tiger sold me a useless copy as the first DVD disc does not play in my Mac or my DVD player, no matter what. I was left to watch the other two remaining discs, causing me to miss an entire plot arc in the first half of the season. Ironically, I have seen the first episode before - I went right ahead and watched it when it was available on Netflix because I wanted to see how the cast was considering Hartman had then-recently passed away. It was a good episode; I felt their pain, which was very real, no fake tears whatsoever. I saw that one awhile ago.

Anyway, I'll just copy and paste what I put on Facebook: Critically, the first three and a quarter seasons are awesome. The final season is a caricature and silly absurd cartoon of a Phil Hartman-less product. Eh. Good things always come to an end.

On - you guessed it - Wikipedia, in the articles for each season, it is noted on the fourth episode of the fourth season that "the writers by this point felt that NewsRadio had lost touch with reality and essentially became a cartoon." It was increasingly relevant in the latter half of the fourth season, but in a good way that still felt normal and funny in an absurd way (Phil Hartman had perfect execution). By the fifth seems ghostly strange and unusual and bleak and just off. Abnormal.

I got the sense that by that point virtually all of the actors weren't nearly into it anymore, both due to Hartman's absence as well as the simple fact that they'd been doing this for four years now and both the writers and the actors seemed stretched for good comedic plot-lines. It seemed to me that a few of the actors (Dave Foley, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Stephen Root) looked like they were almost too old for this kind of thing anymore. Dave Nelson's patience and direct level-headed approach as a news director appeared to have eroded away to an inane careless This-isn't-a-normal-workplace-let's-let-things-slide-anyway persona; Jimmy James babbles so much he sounds ridiculous; the entire environment no longer looks and seems and feels like an AM radio station - rather, it looks like a place for people to run around blowing each other's personal feuds into each other's faces while extras you never see or hear sit in the broadcast booth, forgotten in the background. Lisa becomes irrational and out-of-character and marries a homeless man played by Patrick Warburton, who was apparently "evil" and took over Jimmy James' empire after having him imprisoned. Beth was always a quirky character from the start, which I always loved, but when she falls for Max's leaving-to-make-Beth-sad scheme at the last second and starts wailing like a pre-teen...even for her that's over-the-top.

In spite of all the negative nit-picking, I'm kind of glad I did watch the final season (three-quarters of it). I got to see it finish. The ending made some real sense and had a last-second true spirit of NewsRadio humour in it. Dave walks through the empty floor, into his empty office - only to find Matthew hiding under his desk, having never left with the rest of the cast for New Hampshire. Matthew gleefully offers a variety of duties to be done for Dave, all reminiscent of each character's on the show, before gleefully saying "it's just me and you forever, Dave!" Dave smiles in a way that suggests he's going insane before stuttering that it really is the reality before him - then goes to credits. It leaves me feeling bittersweet, because I was expecting Dave to rush out of the building after the rest of the cast over the credits, which didn't happen. It made sense from a comedic standpoint - but I kind of wish he joined the rest of the people he spent four years with.

The bottom line of this is what I said above: All good things come to an end. Like I said in my review of this series last year, it's the kind of thing I wish I could un-watch only to re-watch it with that original first-time experience. The first season was amazing. The second and third season - awesome. The fourth - pretty good. The fifth? Eh. Like every show, it had its peak. It was such a warm, happy start to something that continued on with great characters and chemistry...then continued on, and eventually got cartoonish and silly and old. I like to think it was a combination of the quality of writing and Hartman's death, but either way, no matter what, good things always come to an end. It's a bitter and unfortunate aspect of life. And Lovitz tried - he did a pretty good job, even though he could never fill the gaping hole Phil Hartman left. I give him credit for trying.

Anyway, that's it for NewsRadio. I'll keep looking for the third and fourth seasons on DVD, and I'll continue to enjoy those, but you know, I hope everyone in that cast - Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Maura Tierney, Khandi Alexander, Vicki Lewis, Joe Rogan, and of course Andy Dick - I hope they find time to all reunite and see each other again, just to relive the magic of each other's company from the great old days of the show. They virtually seem like a family. They don't have to create a new show - just spend some time together. Top it off with a nice framed photograph of Phil Hartman or something.

Sigh. So bittersweet.

Red Cloud